Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, accused Attorney General William Barr of using federal troops as a “prop” to reelect President Donald Trump. Nadler, who has become notorious for calling antifa rioters a “myth,” also insisted that the violent rioters who launch fireworks and other incendiary devices at the federal courthouse in Portland for 61 straight nights are not a “mob.” He accused Barr of “projecting fear and violence nationwide in pursuit of obvious political objectives.”
In his opening remarks, Nadler accused Barr of becoming a threat to the “rule of law” and of “flooding federal law enforcement into the streets of American cities… to forcefully and unconstitutionally suppress dissent.”
Yet Nadler’s most egregious accusations came during his “questioning” of Barr. Toward the end of his time, the Democrat pressed the attorney general to commit to not using federal officers as a “prop” in Trump’s reelection campaign. This question came after Nadler repeatedly asked Barr whether he had discussed the campaign with Trump and whether any political discussions involved law enforcement issues.
“Can you commit today that the department will not use law enforcement as a prop in the president’s reelection campaign?” Nadler pressed.
Barr began to counter the Democrat’s heinous insinuation that the attorney general had been using law enforcement as a political prop.
“We are not using federal law enforcement…” he began.
At that point, Nadler cut him off.
“You really can’t hide behind legal fictions this time, Mr. Barr. It’s all out in the open,” the Democrat triumphantly declared. “The president wants footage for his campaign ads, and you appear to be serving it up to him as ordered.”
Then Nadler repeated a far-left talking point about the riots — claiming that the violence had been abating before law enforcement stepped in.
“In most of these cities, the protests had begun to wind down before you marched in and confronted the protesters,” he insisted, effectively blaming Barr for the unrest.
Then Nadler went on to insist that there was no “mob” terrorizing American cities and attempting to torch federal buildings.
“And the protesters aren’t mobs, they are mothers, and veterans, and mayors. In this moment, real leadership would entail de-escalation, collaboration, and looking for ways to peacably resolve our differences. Instead, you used pepper spray and truncheons on American citizens,” the Democrat declared. “You did it here in Washington, you did it in Lafayette Square, you expanded it to Portland, and now you are projecting fear and violence nationwide in pursuit of obvious political objectives.”
Earlier in the hearing, Ranking Member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) played a video highlighting the violence of the riots, a video that powerfully exposes Nadler’s dismissal of the rioters’ violence as false.
Unfortunately, many Democrats have continued to insist that there is no violence or destruction in the riots. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler attended a riot in Portland, and as he spent time in the crowd, rioters threw mortars at federal officers and the federal courthouse, aiming to set the courthouse on fire. After officers responded with tear gas, Wheeler fatuously denied the truth right before his eyes and claimed that the tear-gas response was completely unprovoked.
Sadly, many of these hearings have devolved into a form of performance art. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) blamed Barr for Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide in an angry tirade verging on a conniption.
The violence on the streets of Portland — and Wheeler’s attempts to prevent local police both from engaging with the riots and from working with federal officers — more than justifies federal officers in their attempts to protect federal property and prevent a massive and potentially deadly arson. Yet to Nadler, this attempt to restore law and order is nothing more than a political “prop.”
Democrats need to stop politicizing this issue and support the restoration of law and order in American cities. The riots have destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. At least 22 Americans have died in the riots, most of them black. Retired police chief David Dorn was killed by looters breaking into his pawnshop in St. Louis. Chris Beaty was shot while helping two women who were being mugged in Indianapolis. Antonio Mays Jr., a 16-year-old boy, was shot and killed outside the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) in Seattle. Secoriea Taylor — an 8-year-old girl! — was fatally shot as her mother attempted to park a car near a group of protesters close to the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks had been killed by police.
These black lives also matter, and while police reform is necessary, it is also essential for law enforcement to protect the lives and livelihoods of Americans by restoring law and order.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.